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More News, More the Same

September 24, 2010 | by Wendy Leopold

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Not long ago, people got their news at the breakfast table or on television or on their way to and from work. The big shift to online news represents a major change not only in the way news is consumed but also how it is created, according to a new book by a Northwestern University communications researcher.

The shift from at-home news consumption to at-work news consumption has led to more homogenous news, according to “News at Work: Imitation in an Age of Information Abundance” (University of Chicago Press).

“The staff at news outlets today can and do keep constant tabs on their competition and, as a result, wind up producing news stories that imitate those of their rivals,” said Pablo Boczkowski, professor of communication studies in Northwestern’s School of Communication. His previous book, “Digitizing the News: Innovation in Online Newspapers,” was published in 2004 by MIT Press.

A comparison of Argentina’s three leading news organizations, “News at Work” also includes an analysis of U.S. news coverage of the 2008 United States presidential election.

Advanced praise for “News at Work” has been strong. “In a world of increasing abundance of information and increasing imitation, Boczkowski offers a novel, parsimonious explanation for why news stories often look the same across many outlets,” writes economist James Hamilton, director of Duke University’s Center for Media and Democracy.

Stanford sociologist Walter Powell adds “the portrait of this transformation of the news is both fascinating and deeply worrying, and is guaranteed to provoke debate.” New York University media scholar Eric Klinenberg calls “News at Work” “a brilliantly creative study of the new world of news,” adding that Boczkowski “already has a reputation for rigorous scholarship” and it “is better than anything he has published to date.”

For further information about “News at Work,” its author or to read its introductory chapter, go to http://www.soc.northwestern.edu/boczkowski/news_at_work.php. 
Topics: People